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Networking
Physician demand for convenient ways to obtain CME credits is driving online-learning models—but not at the expense of live meetings.


Pharmaceutical Executive


When choosing a venue, companies should consider the "60 Minutes" rule, Montague says. Before deciding on a location, decide if you'd mind the meeting appearing in a segment on "60 Minutes." "Today, many companies flat out refuse to go to resorts," he says.

There is a great deal of concern today about the perceived image of as location or venue. Many pharma and medical education providers are deliberately avoiding any locations that are—or are perceived as—resorts and spas, says Bonnie Weiss, director, pharmaceutical industry sales, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. "No one wants to look like they are trying to entice doctors; they want to look like they are educating them," Weiss says.

On Message

The Pri-Med study concluded that 98 percent of respondents listed relevance of clinical topics as the most important factor in a physician's decision to attend a CME conference or meeting. Experts agree. Pri-Med's Goodrich says CME is not about getting the hours and fulfilling the requirements. "It's about obtaining the knowledge and information so doctors can refine their patient care approach," she says. "Medicine is an ever evolving industry and physicians need and want to stay current and up to date."

CME LLC's Meyer advises accredited providers to look at what a particular target audience wants to know about a particular topic. In order to meet the continuing education requirements of her clients, Meyer oversees extensive research, surveys and ongoing needs assessment. "One thing we know is that specialists and generalists have different wants," she says. "In general, specialists want to know a lot about a very narrow topic area, whereas generalists tend to want to know a little about a broad variety of topics."

Both Pri-Med and CME LLC extensively survey both their current and potential attendees to ensure they fulfill a physician's current educational wish list. "We use this information to develop new programs, enhance existing programs, and help identify new learning opportunities," Goodrich says.

Keep It Tight

When physicians arrive at the meeting they don't want their time wasted. "CME meetings must be concise and generally not longer than two and half days," Pentz says. "Physicians like condensed and relevant subject matter and the meeting needs to have good flow."

For multi-day meetings, Pentz advises mixing up the format to add variety. "Vary the format with both lectures and panel discussions," she says. "Lectures are preferable when presenting new data whereas panel discussions are more appropriate when the topic is familiar to the majority of people."

Physicians prefer data-intensive sessions that provide a lot of facts, Meyer says. She advises planners to schedule a question and answer period; many future programs are developed through listening to the questions physicians ask at the end of a presentation.

Hard copies of Power Point presentations should be made available to attendees, either at the beginning of the presentation or after, depending on the speaker's preference.

"Physicians love hand outs!" Meyer says, advising that such documents be as complete as possible so that note taking does not distract audience members. "Also, many physicians like to take these hand outs back to the office to refer to later and share with colleagues."

Speakers

Caliber of speakers was the fourth most cited decision-making factor in Pri-Med's study, with a nod from 88 percent of respondents. When coordinating an event, Lotvin looks for speakers with high marks from attendees at past events, and with credibility. "I also look for speakers who present balanced information in an engaging manner. In a manner of speaking, these physicians are coming to a show. It needs to be good theater; the speaker has got to tell a story," he says.


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